There is a great word used of Jesus, and by Him, nine times in these brief records, the word compassion
. The sight of a leprous man, or of a demon-distressed man, moved
Him. The great multitudes huddling together after Him, so pathetically, like leaderless sheep, eager, hungry, tired, always stirred Him to the depths. The lone woman, bleeding her heart out through her eyes, as she followed the body of her boy out -- He couldn't stand that at all.
And when He was so moved, He always did something. He clean forgot His own bodily needs so absorbed did He become in the folks around Him. The healing touch was quickly given, the demonized man released from his sore bonds, the disciples organized for a wider movement to help, the bread multiplied so the crowds could find something comforting between their hunger-cleaned teeth.
The sight of suffering always stirred Him. The presence of a crowd seemed always to touch and arouse Him peculiarly. He never learned that sort of city culture that can look unmoved upon suffering or upon a leaderless, helpless crowd. That word compassion, used of Him, is both deep and tender in its meaning. The word, actually used under our English means to have the bowels or heart, the seat of emotion, greatly stirred.
The kindred word, sympathy, means to have the heart yearning, literally to be suffering the same distress, to be so moved by somebody's pain or suffering that you are suffering within yourself the same pain too. Our plain English word, fellow-feeling, is the same in its force. Seeing the suffering of some one else so moves you that the same suffering is going on inside you as you see in them. This is the great word used so often of Jesus, and by Him.
There never lived a man who had such a passion for men as Jesus. He lived to win them out of their distressed, sinful, needy lives up to a new level. He died to win them. His last act was dying to win men. His last word was, |Go ye and win men.| And His first act when He got back home, all scarred and marred by His contact with earth, was to send down the same Spirit as swayed Him those human years to live in us that we might have the same passion for winning men as He. Aye, and the same exquisite tact in doing it as He had.
I said the last act was dying to win men. And you remember that even in the act of dying, He forgot the keen pain of body, and the far keener pain of spirit, to turn His head as far as He could turn it, and speak the word to the fellow by His side that meant the difference of a world to him. Surely it was the ruling passion with Him to win men, strong in death, aye, strongest in death, and finding its strongest expression in His death.